Public Health Cuts in State Budget

Jun 20, 2011

State public health leaders are regrouping after the budget passed last week, determining how to do more with less.

At first glance, it seems like the state's division of public health got a big bump - going from 160 to 190 million dollars next year. But state Health Director Jeff Engel says that's a one time infusion, as state budget writers eliminated the Health and Wellness Trust Fund and shifted this year's allocation to his department.

Engel says the Fund financed several prescription drug programs, grants to eliminate health disparities, statewide anti-obesity initiatives and smoking cessation programs

Jeff Engel: "Tobacco is the number one killer in our state, whether it be linked to cancer, heart disease or stroke. What will appear on the death certificate are those conditions, but smoking are the most biggest contributor, most preventable cause of all those bad outcomes in NC. In terms of the impact on the public's health that’s the most concerning to us right now. "
Engel says he hopes to preserve as many of those programs as possible, even after the one time allocation is gone.